Mine death toll distress

The high death toll of workers on South Africa's mines was of great concern, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said yesterday.

The high death toll of workers on South Africa's mines was of great concern, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said yesterday.

Sonjica was on a visit to Anglo Gold Ashanti's Moab Khotsong mine near Orkney.

The two deaths there at the weekend had brought to four the toll at the mine, said Chief Inspector of Mines Thabo Gazi, who accompanied Sonjica on an underground tour of the accident site.

He said there had been an unconfirmed 110 deaths on mines this year, 58 at gold mines. There were 199 deaths in total last year.

Gazi said that Anglo Gold Ashanti operations accounted for 25 of the fatalities last year.

So far this year there had been 14 deaths at the company's seven operations.

Gazi said targets aimed at reducing fatalities were set by the government in conjunction with the industry and labour in 2003. These stipulated a 20percent decrease year-on-year.

While there was a 16,5percent drop in 2004, there had been no improvement last year and this year was "basically the same".

"It doesn't seem we are getting the improvement we hoped for," he said. - Sapa

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